Derek ful­fils dream to pub­lish spe­cial book about Lin­nets’ his­tory

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Sport -

IN 2018, it will be 100 years since the birth of Run­corn AFC.

To co­in­cide with the ‘cen­te­nary’ of the Lin­nets, one of their most fer­vent fans (also the for­mer long-serv­ing chair­man of its suc­ces­sor club) is set to pub­lish a su­perb new sou­venir book­let chart­ing the his­tory and evo­lu­tion of one of the town’s big­gest sport­ing brands.

In writ­ing Once A Lin­net, Al­ways A Lin­net, Derek Greenwood re­counts the rise and fall of Run­corn AFC and how the Lin­nets’ name has lived on through the for­ma­tion of a new club owned and run by its fans.

The book’s launch this month, just ahead of the an­niver­sary year, will kick-off a se­ries of events or­gan­ised by a cen­te­nary com­mit­tee, to cel­e­brate the land­mark.

It is well worth cel­e­brat­ing too – as some­thing which would not have been achieved without the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Lin­nets’ faith­ful down the years and par­tic­u­larly in the sum­mer of 2006 when the fi­nal whis­tle could have been blown.

When Run­corn AFC an­nounced that with no per­ma­nent home after the sale of its Canal Street home and ill-fated ground shares at Widnes and Prescot, they did not have the funds to con­tinue from the end of the 2005-06 sea­son, it looked to be game over.

But tra­di­tion would not be al­lowed to die and after fans per­suaded of­fi­cials of the North West Coun­ties League that they could not only make a go – but also a suc­cess – of a fol­low-on club un­der the um­brella of an ex­ist­ing if re­mod­elled Sup­port­ers Trust, a new chap­ter was opened.

Be­gin­ning life in North­wich, as ten­ants of Wit­ton Al­bion for its first four years, the phoenix club achieved pro­mo­tion at the first at­tempt and has with back­ing from Hal­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil and The Foot­ball Foun­da­tion been back in its home­land (in the New Town dis­trict of Mur­dishaw) for the last seven.

A new £1.3m pur­pose-built club­house is set to be un­veiled next month – the ex­ist­ing build­ing, lov­ingly con­verted from a one-time re­cre­ation club gym, is poised for im­mi­nent de­mo­li­tion to make way for a new re­tail and leisure de­vel­op­ment.

The Mill­bank Lin­nets Sta­dium is head­quar­ters to a first team with an av­er­age at­ten­dance of 300+, a ti­tlewin­ning Ladies team and around 400 ju­nior play­ers.

Ex­am­in­ing the hap­pen­ings and events which have shaped or checked the progress of the Lin­nets, old and new, the 72-page book­let of­fers a fac­tual, nos­tal­gic and emo­tional look back at the highs and lows which af­fect all sport­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

But it is not a ster­ile ret­ro­spec­tive ac­count, based purely on fact as Derek, now one of Run­corn Lin­nets’ five vice-pres­i­dents after more than 10 years as its chair­man, has brought the tri­umphs, tri­als and tribu­la­tions to life.

With pho­to­graphs, news­pa­per cut­tings, rare match day pro­grammes, ar­chive ma­te­rial, mem­o­ries and sta­tis­tics, the A4 pub­li­ca­tion not only charts a time­line but tells the story in words and pic­tures of per­son­al­i­ties who have been the lifeblood of Lin­nets – great man­agers, prom­i­nent club of­fi­cials, lead­ing play­ers and well-known sup­port­ers.

Derek said: “Run­corn Foot­ball Club has been part of our lives for as long as I can re­mem­ber although the club was al­ready 30 years old when I was born. I al­ways promised my­self that when I re­tired and had some time, I would try to ex­plain why that should be.

“This is there­fore, not an at­tempt to write a his­tory of the club as such but more share through my scrap­book why the club meant so much to me, my fam­ily and so many fans I have met over the years.” ● The book­let is £10 and ev­ery penny from sales will go di­rectly to Run­corn Lin­nets FC. There is an op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase the book­let through the club web­site at www. run­corn­lin­netsfc.co.uk/ on­cealin­netal­waysalin­net ●

Derek Greenwood

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